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Although a second county seat was authorized at Laurel, to the northeast, the primary county seat of Jones County is Ellisville, Mississippi, which contains most of the county government. The city was named for Powhatan Ellis, a former US Senator for Mississippi, a descendant of Pocahontas and her father, Chief Powhatan in Virginia. During the Civil War, Ellisville and Jones County were at the center of pro-Union resistance in Mississippi. Slaves made up only 12% of the county’s population in 1860, the lowest concentration of slaves in the state. Many local residents resisted going to war to support slaveholders, and were concerned about the welfare of their families, who were dependent solely on subsistence farming. Resentment was also fueled by Confederate tax collectors who raided the provisions and stores that local families needed in order to survive. Confederate deserters and refugee slaves formed a resistance group known as the Knight Company, for Newton Knight, its self-appointed captain. Along with about 100 other Jones County residents and runaway slaves, they took refuge in a swamp that was located along the Leaf River, fighting skirmishes with Confederate tax collectors and Confederate military units that were later sent to put down the resistance. In 1864, they took control of Ellisville, raising the U.S. flag in place of the Confederate flag over the courthouse. This events is commemorated in the 2015 book, The Free State of Jones, by Victoria Bynum, and the 2016 film by the same name. Following the Civil War, Ellisville never regained its previous status as the economic center of the county, losing status to Laurel. Ellisville is primarily white, while the population of Laurel is primarily African-American. Ellisville is situated along US Highway 59. Surrounding communities include Benson, Calhoun, Johnson, Lanham, Pleasant Ridge, Tawanta, and Tuckers Crossing. Hattiesburg, Mississippi is about 25 miles southwest of Ellisville.


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